Destruction Aftermath, Book 2a
Chapter 22

Copyright© 2012 by radio_guy

Anne said, "When everyone started dying from the virus, I was a high school senior. It pretty much ruined the end of my senior year. My parents and two brothers all made it without any of us getting sick. Dad had always lived in Pennsylvania. He and my mom met in college and returned to outside Pittsburgh to live and work after they graduated. She was a high school teacher and he was a banker. Both my brothers are younger than me. For a while, we lived by raiding stores but Dad quickly saw that as a losing program as was continuing to live in the city. He took us on scouting expeditions to find a new home. We picked an Amish community because, while the virus had wiped them out, they were set up to survive with little in the way of modern conveniences. Carl, Ed, and I thought it great fun to use our phones and pods even though we had to travel to find places to charge them. Dad and Mom still used their laptops a lot. Dad used his to learn about farming and we managed to survive the first winter pretty well. We were safe, well fed, and warm. We lived that way for almost four years before trouble started.

"My brothers and I were allowed to roam the area freely when we weren't doing chores at the farm. One night, Carl didn't come home for supper. At dark, we still hadn't seen him nor heard from him. Dad took me in one of our cars and went into the little commercial area to see if he was there. We didn't find him. Dad called Mom on his cell and they talked it over. They finally agreed that he and I would return to the farm and wait until tomorrow. Calls to Carl's phone went straight to voice mail. We didn't know what had happened. When Dad and I returned home, he sat with Mom and they mapped out search routes. I would take Ed in my car and he and Mom would search in the other car. A note would be left to call and, if he couldn't call, to stay put until someone came back from looking for him.

"We left the next morning following the routes that Dad had laid out for us. We rode around following the map for about three hours when Mom called me. She told me to head home and then cut off the phone. When Ed and I got home, there was no one there and I began to worry. Both my parents could be cryptic but this didn't make sense to me.

"We stayed at the house and worried for almost two hours before we heard the motor of a car coming up the drive. It was our parents with Carl. He was hurt. I later found that he had been driving on the highway and a huge animal jumped out in front of him. He hit it and his car crashed. His legs were broken along with numerous cuts and bruises.

"Dad straightened his legs and splinted them. Mom bathed his cuts and cleaned him up. That was the beginning of our problems. Our crops were raided during the next month a number of times and we saw packs of dogs or wolves a lot. Dad also found tracks of a big cat. We didn't go out like we used to and Dad began to practice with guns and make us do it, too.

"Toward the end of summer in late July or early August, a big group of men came in using SUV's and Hummers for transportation. Dad resisted and they shot him. They threatened my mother and me that Carl would be shot if we didn't have sex with them. We did and I lost my virginity to their leader. When they had all finished, they shot Carl and Ed and took us with them. That night, they rejoined the main group and I found out that they called themselves the Penn's. The leader of the scouting party kept me for himself but my mother was placed with the other women for any of the men to use. I don't think she cared. With Dad and my brothers dead and me out of reach, she didn't have much left to live for any more. She was killed a month later for objecting to someone's request for sex. All the women had to watch. It wasn't pretty."

Bennie called me to him then. I left Anne and went to where he was talking to Carrie and Linda. "There is an issue regarding those two pointing to Jean and Anne with his eyes. Listen to what Linda says about her."

I looked at Linda. She said, "She's clean and Jean and Ed are scared of her. None of the men mistreated her. She was left alone last night when all the rest of us were used sexually. Please be careful with her."

I looked at Bennie. We went a little ways from everyone else to talk privately. "We can just stay here tonight so none of them can see what our folk look like." I said.

Bennie responded, "I think that best. I will tell Jim and keep the radios hidden. One of those two women is probably a ringer and maybe both."

I went back to Anne. "I'm sorry. Bennie wants to stay here tonight and take it easy. It will give us a chance to get to know each other. Please continue with your story."

She picked up, saying, "That's most of my story. I just lived with that same guy. I didn't like him but one is a better choice than many and hard work. I've looked forward to a chance to escape though I had no idea where I would go. I just want to get away from the Penn's and find normal people. Will you tell about your people?"

"We are in Georgia and most of us are farmers. We have a government with my father as its elected leader. We are peaceful, like I said, but protect our own. Our primary focus has been up and down the Atlanta-Macon corridor of I-85. (The lie worked well once and won't hurt to use again.) Most of our people are married like Bennie and I. We don't allow slaves or forced work in our community. On the other hand, if you don't work, you don't eat."

We set our camp for the night with a tent for our new ladies and one for Elroy and Carrie. Ed, Bennie, and I would sleep under the stars. Bennie had talked to Ed during the day and told me about their talk as we lay together listening to the night sounds.

Bennie said, "That poor boy has been abused badly. He has been a slave most of his life and had some fear that I would join what has been a long, painful line of men. The Penn's don't have enough women and they have used a number of young boys. Altogether, they are a not nice seeming group. The shocker is that he claims he is Anne's younger brother."

"That's very interesting since Anne said her younger brother was killed. What do we know about Jean?"

"She told some of her story to Carrie and Elroy. It seems that she has had a hard time with the Penn's and she thinks Ed is Anne's brother."

"That means Anne is one of them and may well be our ringer. Or, maybe she wants out because she lost favor or her protector lost his position. There is no question that something is wrong with one or more of those three."

"That's my thought. I would like to get the ringer or ringers out in the open before we give them a chance to learn much about us. I just haven't figured out how yet."

At that moment, we heard movement in the tent with the freed women. We saw a shape come out of the tent and go to Ed. "You little rat! When I get you back, I'll have you beaten until you can't walk. You shouldn't have told anyone that I'm your sister!" Anne hissed.

Bennie said, "You told Janice that both your brothers were dead." His voice dropped even lower than usual as he said, "What else have you lied about?"

Anne shot up into the air and began to run. I had jumped up, too, and caught her before she went twenty feet tackling her to the ground hard. She turned to hit me and I slugged her. She folded over with my blow to her kidney. I was mad and hit her as hard as I could.

By then, Bennie was with us and pulled her up. "Get rope."

I gathered some rope and he used it to truss her up thoroughly. He stuffed a fag in her mouth and tied it so she couldn't make noise. He then picked her up by her arms, which had to be very painful as it bent her shoulders fearfully and pulled her to a tree. He used the rest of the rope to tie her to the tree. He looked over at Ed. "Will you stay or do I need to tie you, too?"

His voice answered shakily, 'I'll stay here. Please protect me from her."

Bennie answered, "That will be done. If you do try to leave here, I will shoot you." Ed nodded and lay back on his blanket with his back to his sister. By then, everyone was awake and up. Bennie said, "The excitement's over. Go back to bed and sleep. Tomorrow will be a long day." He and I returned to our blankets, this time to sleep though we both knew we would be listening for anything out of the ordinary.

In the morning, we woke before any of the others and checked the camp and the surrounding area, as was our habit. All was quiet and nobody else was trying anything. Anne was just as we left her and I checked her bonds to be sure they were still bonds and not faked. Bennie and I started a fire and talked. I said, "What do we do with Anne?"

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